From history to a modern look at lockpicking and the code of ethics


Lockpicking is non-destructive openning method of locks and locking systems without original key. Lockpicking isn’t only manipulation by lockpick tools, but it is impressioning method as well or openning by decoders and others special tools. Lockpicking is not only for locksmiths, it’s hobby and sport discipline called locksport. Lockpickers could be students, doctors, bank officers or scientists. For many of them it’s relax from job or rest after hardwork. Lockpicking is like puzzle solving, increasing manual skills and helping train brain.

Amount of lockpickers is still increasing and curently counting a few hundred of thousands. There are many of organisations in the world. The most famous organization is TOOOL (The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers) from Netherlands, which is located also in USA, UK, Belgium etc. In Germany there is organisation called SSDeV (Sportsfreunde der Sperrtechnik – Deutschland e.V.) or in Czech Republic there is ACL (Association of Czech Lockpickers).

„Lockpicking is like art, when the lock is opened without its key!“ 

In Czech Republic ownership of lockpicking tools is legal, if those tools are not being used for illegal activity. In some countries is tools ownership prohibited. Sometimes public is asking, whether the publishing of information doesn’t helping to burgulars how to open the lock. The answer is no, because burgulars prefer faster destructive openning methods like cylinder snapping. The publishing of security faults cause to its improvements during manufacturing, therefore the lockpicking organisations often cooperates with lock manufacturers.

Ethical codex of lockpickers is based on three basic rules. We are opening only own locks or locks, where owner grants the explicit permission. We are not opening the locks, which are used to secure property. We are never publishing the information, which we could be illegal activity.


Lockpicking we know since 18th century, when the first lockpicking contest was announced. Inovator and developer Joseph Bramah founded his company and produced first lock at 1784. At 1790 J. Bramah announced the contest: Who can open his lock by non-destructive method will win 200 Guineas. During the contest this time was called “The time of perfect security”.  This time last for a few decades and was closed by Alfred Charles Hobbs at 1851, who were able to open the lock in 16 days (51 hours).


The time of IT change the view on all security systems. In past was very hard to find information how the lock mechanism works, now it’s very easy to find this information online and few mouse clicks opening the doors to fascinating world of non-destructive security systems opening. In past, the lockpicking was special skill only for few people, often the locksmiths only or small closed communities.

In those days the lockpicking is hobby of many thousands people from different fields at whole world. Internet as well making the cooperation and sharing the information more easy. The knowledges of lockpicking organisations are still increasing compared to single professionals. Lockpicking is becoming the trend for development of new mechanical locking systems and we can predict, that this trend will be more often implemented to the research and development.


Association of Czech Lockpickers (ACL) is voluntary and independent organisation dedicated to lockpicking. ACL was founded at 2010 and since then organized as the only one organisation in Czech eight contests in lockpicking with international participation. In last two years together with Locksmith CZ and new ACL management we begin the education courses at universities (CTU in Prague, TU Brno – IT), focusing on students personal security. Beside of universities we were participating ELF Convention 2017 and two LockFests in Carlsbad. This year LockFest 2018 the members ACL will be there not only as organisators, but the lecturers of professional seminars.

In the beginning of this year the Czech ligue of lockpicking began under the head of ACL, where there are 15 lockpickers from whole Czech Republic and in between of them are the locks, the results and opening methods are scoring. During the summer started our project “Summer school of lockpicking” as the video presentation in two languages (english and czech). The topics of locks history and new trends of property security were included.

The main ACL mission is to associate the persons dealing with non-destructive openning of locking systems and present this activity as a sport activity, defending the professional interests of ACL members and providing the security consulting services to public.

Among the main goals of ACL belongs the members base education in lockpicking, education of public in term of different lock openning methods and faults in locking systems, providing security consulting services and last but not least cooperation with lock manufacturers and providing to them the findings to improve their products. Another goal is to organise common events for ACL members only and organising local and international championships in non-destructive way of lock openning.

All the ACL members are in line with high decency and ethics, reasonable attitude to lockpicking and so called Lockpickers 6P. This tool of team leadership is based on planning activities and sharing the organisation successes, supporting, helping to each other and of course the feedback in form of praise of ACL team mates.

ACL membership is diverse, including men, women, from different fields across the whole Czech Republic. All of them have common interest – lockpicking. They love the puzzles, they like to learn new things, gaining the experiences from the non-destructive openning methods. Some of them are in the top world class. The most important is that all of them are friends to the life with common interest.

“They are determined to follow what they believe in. They were the first, they are not afraid of challenges and getting new experiences. They are driven by the desire to improve.”

This article was originally written for Zámkař magazine no. 01-02/2018 (AZKS), written by ACL members.